Drug overdose deaths in the United States has almost tripled since 1999, and opioids are the culprit. Death due to prescription drugs has surpassed deaths caused by heroin and cocaine combined. Drug overdoses deaths reached an all-time high in 2016 with an estimate of 65,000 deaths caused by overdoses and the number is expected to rise as 2017 data is finalized. Out of the 65,000 deaths in 2016 due to overdoses, 20,000 of them are attributed to synthetic opioids, many of them related to Fentanyl. Fentanyl is a form of a synthetic opioid that has not been approved for medical use in the United States, and there are no published studies on safety for human use. It is currently classified as a schedule 1 drug. Fentanyl has created a national health crisis affecting the general public as well as the Hollywood Sector.
The most recent case to come out of Hollywood was the death of Tom Petty an American singer-songwriter. Who died at his home after suffering from multi-system organ failure caused by mixed drug toxicity. The medical examiner’s news release said the autopsy found fentanyl, oxycodone, acetyl fentanyl and despropionyl fentanyl in Petty’s system. Petty suffered from an injured knee and broken hip at the time of his death which likely intrigued the need for painkillers. The statement from Petty’s wife and daughter said: “We knew before the report was shared with us that he was prescribed various pain medications for a multitude of issues including fentanyl patches and we feel confident that this was, as the coroner found, an unfortunate accident. As a family, we recognize this report may spark a further discussion on the opioid crisis and we feel that it is a healthy and necessary discussion and we hope in some way this report can save lives. Many people who overdose begin with a legitimate injury or simply do not understand the potency and deadly nature of these medications.”